Be prepared for forest mushroom harvesting

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Courtesy photo Mushroom-picking enthusiasts need to know the rules and prepare for conditions before heading into the woods for their favorite fungus.

COEUR d’ALENE — As the snow finally recedes and the temperatures warm, forest mushrooms are nearly ready for harvest.

The U.S. Forest Service offers some tips and information for forest mushroom harvesters in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Mushroom harvesting in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests requires a permit for anyone harvesting more than one gallon of mushrooms a day, or more than five gallons a season. This free personal-use permit allows harvesting up to 20 gallons, or 50 pounds, of mushrooms per season. In an effort to provide opportunities for recreational pickers, commercial harvesting is not authorized in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. Picking mushrooms with the intent to sell them is considered commercial harvesting. Slicing mushrooms in half, length-wise from stem to cap, before leaving the harvest area distinguishes personal use from unauthorized commercial collecting.

Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth stresses the importance of correctly identifying mushrooms.

“Poisonous mushrooms can be difficult to distinguish from edible varieties. Please learn what is safe and what is not before consuming any wild mushrooms,” Farnsworth said.

Mushrooms may be harvested anywhere in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests unless otherwise restricted. It is always recommended to check with your local ranger station for any road or area closures. In burned areas, visitors should be aware of falling snags and burned stump holes.

Mushroom permits are available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at any Idaho Panhandle National Forest offices, except for the Coeur d’Alene Forest Nursery. Issuing permits ensures the sustainability of mushroom harvests and helps the Forest Service protect resources. It is important to understand the permit conditions and mushroom harvest limits. Mushroom permit requirements may vary between national forests.

More information about mushroom harvesting is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/ipnf/home or at your local Forest Service office.

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